At UCLA, we understand how frightening a pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be. Our integrated clinic helps patients get pancreatic disease treatment faster, shortening the time to surgery for eligible patients.
As a major research institution, UCLA offers pancreatic cancer treatment options and clinical trial opportunities not available at most facilities. Our surgeons operate on more than 100 patients each year, making our team one of the most experienced in southern California.
Pancreatic cancer is a disease where normal pancreas cells grow uncontrollably. This growth can interfere with the function of the pancreas and surrounding organs like the bile duct, liver and gallbladder.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer.
Scientists don’t know for certain what causes pancreatic cancer. However, risk factors for the disease include:
Having pancreatic cancer may also increase your risk of developing other types of cancer. We provide genetic counseling and testing to help you understand your risks, so doctors can provide proactive monitoring and treatment.
Early pancreatic cancer often doesn’t cause any symptoms. As cancer grows, however, patients may experience any of the following symptoms:
It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also occur with other more common, less serious conditions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.
Our doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer with imaging tests and by analyzing biopsy samples in the lab. People with a family history of other cancers may also be at risk for pancreatic cancer. Because of this connection, we also provide genetic counseling to help patients get diagnosed earlier.
UCLA offers some of the most advanced imaging and diagnosis available for pancreatic cancers, including:
Pancreatic cancer cases are divided into four main stages:
When pancreatic cancer is borderline resectable or locally advanced, tumors are usually considered inoperable because of their involvement with nearby blood vessels or organs. However, UCLA has helped more of these patients get potentially life-saving surgery for over 20 years.
Our unique approach involves extended pre-operative chemotherapy to shrink locally advanced tumors to the point of being resectable, a process called “downstaging.” In over 50 percent of locally advanced or borderline resectable cases treated this way, our surgeons successfully removed the cancer, improving survival and even curing a number of patients.
Patients who undergo downstaging treatment at UCLA live twice as long as pancreatic cancer patients nationwide.
While a pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be scary, patients should know there are many 5-year survivors, even for those with advanced stages of the disease. New treatments and drugs offer a better chance for long-term survival, and there is hope for a cure.
Pancreatic cancer treatment typically involves some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation:
Learn more about pancreatic disease treatment at UCLA.
For more information or to make an appointment with our team of specialists, please call us at (310) 206-6889.